Curious tourists can now visit the far-flung Faroe Islands – a remote nation in the North Atlantic, halfway between Iceland and Norway – from the comfort of their own homes, following the launch of a compelling new tourism tool, the first of its kind.
The new Remote Tourism site will allow virtual visitors to explore the Faroes’ rugged mountains, to see close-up its cascading waterfalls and to spot the traditional grass-roofed houses of this Nordic nation by interacting – live – with a local Faroese, who will act as their eyes, ears and body on a virtual exploratory tour of the destination.
How does it work?
The Faroese locals will be equipped with a live video camera, allowing virtual visitors not only to see the views from an on-the-spot perspective, but also to control where and how they explore, by using a joypad to turn, walk, run and even jump.
Just like a real-life computer game, the main player will control the moves of the Faroese islanders, who will not only explore locations on foot, on horseback or by boat, but will also take to the skies by helicopter, giving the virtual visitors a bird’s eye perspective on this beautiful island nation’s steep grassy slopes, its 80,000 sheep, its endless seascapes and its unspoilt, wild and natural countryside.
During the virtual tours – which started on Wednesday 15 April and will run once or twice daily for about 10 days – the Visit Faroe Islands tourist board team will be online in real time on Instagram and Facebook Live to answer any questions that participants may have, providing both inspiration and expert knowledge about places to visit and things to see once the islands have reopened to visitors. Virtual visitors will take turns to control activity for 1 minute each, but there is no limit on the number of people who can watch and listen to each tour and enjoy local insight provided by the real-time guide.
Perfect for those whose plans to visit the Faroe Islands have been temporarily put on hold due to current travel restrictions – plus those looking ahead for future inspiration – a virtual visit will provide the ideal solution for those itching to explore somewhere different and to escape, briefly, the rules of social isolation.
Whether discovering remote hiking trails and wild seascapes, exploring viewpoints and key landmarks, or wandering around the cultural hub – and Faroese capital city – of Tórshavn, in real time and free from other visitors, being a virtual tourist has a lot to commend it. Visitors from densely populated countries will enjoy the lack of crowds and the chance to walk freely in wide-open spaces. With a population across the Faroes’ 18 islands of just 50,000 people, this idea allows those self-isolating at home the chance to travel to distant lands and to walk freely outdoors, discovering pristine landscapes with perhaps just the occasional Faroese sheep for company.
Guðrið Højgaard, Director of Visit Faroe Islands, says that the nation is proud to welcome virtual tourists to its remote North Atlantic location. “When the travel bans began to escalate, we wondered how we could recreate a Faroe Islands’ experience for those who had to cancel or postpone their trip to the Faroe Islands, and for everyone else stuck at home. The result is this new platform to enable those in isolation to take a walk across our wild landscapes, to regain a sense of freedom and to explore beyond their own four walls.
“We believe that our remote islands are the perfect place to inspire people in lockdown – and, naturally, we hope to welcome them in person once everyone is free to travel again.”
The launch of the remote tourismidea is the latest in a series of innovative initiatives by the Faroe Islands’ tourist board to share their remote homeland with the world, following the success of Google Sheep View (which saw sheep mapping the islands for Google Street View) and Faroe Islands Translate (which had local people translating, live/in real time, phrases requested from around the world into Faroese).
The Faroes’ Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism project, which saw the country close to tourists for few days for the first time last year, hosting 100 volunteers who took part in projects to protect the environment and key visitor spots, has been postponed this year due to COVID-19. New dates later in 2020 will be announced as soon as possible.
The Faroe Islands will remain closed to tourists until the end of April at the earliest. Fortunately, the effect of the COVID-19 on the health of locals has been limited – the amount of people recovering from the virus currently exceeds the number of people becoming infected. This is largely due to measures taken by the Faroese authorities, such as extensive testing; the Faroe Islands has the highest rate of COVID-19 testing per capita in the world.
To experience the Faroe Islands as a virtual tourist through a local’s eyes, go to remote-tourism.com, now live, with tours running twice daily, at 14:00 and 17:00, initially for 10 days. The first public tour will take place on Wednesday 15 April at 14:00 hours (UK time).
For more information on how the Remote Tourism initiative works, see the film here.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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